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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 11:37 pm 
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Australian state apologizes to men convicted for gay sex
11 May 2017

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- An Australian state parliament on Thursday apologized to hundreds of men convicted decades ago for having homosexual sex, as the government introduced legislation to throw out their criminal records.

Queensland State Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk delivered the apology to those affected by a prohibition on homosexual sex, which was repealed in 1990.

Once the legislation is passed, Queensland will join three states and the national capital in expunging criminal records for homosexual sex, which is no longer illegal anywhere in the country. Two states and a territory have not.

"You have been maligned and shamed, and for that we express our deep regret for the hurt you have suffered," Palaszczuk told the Legislative Assembly. "In criminalizing homosexual activity between consenting adults, the Legislative Assembly of this state dishonored its citizens and institutionalized prejudice and discrimination," she added.

Alan Raabe was convicted of aggravated sexual assault after what he said was a consensual homosexual act in 1988, and was in parliament to hear the apology. The 63-year-old said his ambition of being a teacher had been dashed by his conviction, but he is happy to finally have his criminal record wiped clean. "It was like a cloud lifted, somebody cared," Raabe said.

Although homosexuality is no longer illegal, those convicted still have to declare their criminal records to potential employers to work in public service, education and childcare industries. Under the proposed changes which appear almost certain to become law, a man will be able to apply to the Justice Department for his conviction for an "act of gross indecency" to be expunged.

Queensland is regarded as Australia's most conservative state. Homosexual acts between consenting adults in private were punishable by up to 14 years in prison in Queensland and state police were renowned throughout Australia in the 1980s for the priority they gave to arresting and harassing gays.

In the late 1980s, the Australian government threatened a public attack on the Queensland government over media reports that undercover police were propositioning gays in public toilets to make arrests and charging established gay couples for having sex in their own homes. The then state premier replied in a letter that he was doing his "level best for this very difficult issue" of police harassment of gays. The government was changed for the first time in 32 years before the law was reformed.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 2:10 pm 
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Bangladesh arrests 27 men on suspicion of being gay
19 May 2017

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) -- Authorities in Bangladesh on Friday arrested 27 men on suspicion of being gay, a criminal offense in the Muslim-majority country, and plan to charge them with drug possession, an official said Friday.

A commander of the Rapid Action Battalion, an elite police unit that made the arrests, said the suspects, mostly students aged 20-30 years, had traveled from across the country and were picked up in a raid on a community center at Keraniganj, outside the nation's capital, early Friday. Zahangir Hossain Matobbar said they recovered illegal drugs and condoms in their possession and plan to charge them with drug offenses and not homosexuality because they were detained before they engaged in sex. The agency also arrested the owner of the community center where the suspects used to gather every two months and stay overnight for party.

Last year, suspected militants killed a leading LGBT activist and his friend in Dhaka. The 35-year-old Xulhaz Mannan, a USAID official, was hacked to death in April last year at his home. He had founded the country's only LGBT magazine Roopbaan and was a leading organizer of gays, who are ostracized in Bangladesh. Since then, many of the gays and lesbians have left the country after they received death threats. Many still live double lives to avoid reprisals.

Homosexuality is a crime in Bangladesh under a law dating back to the British colonial rule, and it has never been amended. The law is rarely enforced.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 2:42 pm 
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Bangladesh LGBT editor hacked to death
25 April 2016

Bangladesh police say a top gay rights activist and editor at the country's only LGBT magazine is one of two people who have been hacked to death.

The US ambassador to Bangladesh condemned the killing of Xulhaz Mannan, who also worked at the US embassy. Another person was also injured when the attackers entered a Dhaka flat.

Since February last year suspected militants have killed several secular or atheist writers and members of religious minority groups. The two men were murdered two days after a university teacher was hacked to death by suspected Islamist militants. So-called Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility - but the Bangladeshi government insists there is no IS presence in the country.

"I am devastated by the brutal murder of Xulhaz Mannan and another young Bangladeshi," said US Ambassador Marcia Bernicat. "We abhor this senseless act of violence and urge the government of Bangladesh in the strongest terms to apprehend the criminals behind these murders," she added.

BBC Bengali Service editor Sabir Mustafa said staff at Roopbaan, a magazine and activist group for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community that had not been condemned by the government and received some support from foreign embassies, had been careful to protect their identities but had not believed their lives were at risk. Suspected extremists in Bangladesh are gaining a sense of security that they can carry out killings with impunity, he says.

A British photographer who knew Mr Mannan and the other victim, known as "Tonoy" and named in Bangladeshi media as Tanay Mojumdar, said they and other friends had set up Roopbaan with the aim of spreading tolerance.

Homosexuality is technically illegal in Bangladesh and remains a highly sensitive issue in society. Both men were openly gay and believed that if more gay Bangladeshis came out then the country would have to accept them, the photographer, who asked not to be named, said. They were also were behind the annual "Rainbow Rally", held on Bengali New Year, 14 April, since 2014. This year's rally was banned by police as part of widespread security measures. "Both were extremely gentle, non-violent and aware that being openly gay and active in their work was a personal danger," the photographer said.

Their killings were likely to spread fear among Bangladesh's gay community, he said. "Until a year ago the only threat to coming out was shame of the family and having to start a new life elsewhere in Bangladesh. Now it's one of danger," he said.

Meanwhile Bangladesh's best known blogger said he had received a death threat on Sunday. Imran Sarker, who led major protests by secular activists in 2013 against Islamist leaders, said he had received a phone call warning that he would be killed "very soon".

Source: BBC

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 1:55 pm 
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'Am I going to die?' Gay man testifies at church trial
By MITCH WEISS and HOLBROOK MOHR
June 1, 2017

RUTHERFORDTON, N.C. (AP) -- A North Carolina man thought he was "going to die" when members of his evangelical church beat and choked him for two hours to expel his "homosexual demons," he testified Thursday.

Matthew Fenner was the first person to take the stand in the assault and kidnapping trial of Brooke Covington, a 58-year-old minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina. Fenner, 23, said Covington was the leader in a 2013 beating involving numerous congregants. He said Covington pointed out his sexual orientation, saying, "God said there is something wrong in your life."

Fenner said he had cancer as a child and had a biopsy one week before he was assaulted. "I'm frail and in my mind, I'm thinking, 'is my neck going to break, am I going to die?'" Fenner said.

Covington faces up to two years in prison if convicted. She is the first of five church members to face trial in the case. Each defendant will be tried separately. Prosecutor Garland Byers said during opening statements that Covington "directed and participated in" the assault.

Fenner has said he was leaving a Sunday night prayer service Jan. 27, 2013, when nearly two dozen people surrounded him in the sanctuary. He said they slapped, punched, choked and blasted him - a church practice that involves intense screaming - for two hours as they tried to expel his "homosexual demons."

Covington's lawyer, David Teddy, tried to poke holes in Fenner's testimony, noting that Fenner praised the church in his high school graduation speech and visited a Word of Faith Fellowship church in Brazil. "Before I got to Word of Faith, my life was filled with sin," Teddy said, quoting from the transcript of one of those speeches. Teddy also said Fenner never told anyone to stop hitting him. "When you've been emotionally abused, you cannot say stop," Fenner said. Complaining would have made the punishment worse, Fenner said.

During opening statements, Teddy said the congregation gave Fenner routine prayer that lasted no longer than 15 to 20 minutes. When the prayer was over, Fenner "hugged everybody and left the church," Teddy said.

As part of an ongoing, two-year investigation into abuse of Word of Faith Fellowship congregants by church leaders, the Associated Press interviewed four former church members who say they witnessed Fenner being attacked. Based on interviews with 43 former members, documents and secretly made recordings, the AP reported in February that Word of Faith Fellowship congregants were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in a violent form of deliverance meant to "purify" sinners by beating out devils.

The church has scores of strict rules to control congregants' lives, including whether they can marry or have children. Failure to comply often triggers a humiliating rebuke from the pulpit or, worse, physical punishment, according to numerous former members interviewed by AP. Members can't watch television, go to the movies, read newspapers or eat in restaurants that play music or serve alcohol. If church leaders believe a congregant has sexual or dirty thoughts, they can be accused of being "unclean" and be punished, the former members said.

Fenner said he joined the sect with his mother and brother in 2010. He fled after he said he was attacked.

The defense had filed requests to move the trial out of Rutherford County, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains midway between Charlotte and Asheville, due to years of negative publicity about the church's practices. As an alternative, the defense asked to have a jury brought in from another area. Superior Court Judge Gary Gavenus denied those requests.

The AP's investigation also revealed that congregants were ordered by church leaders to lie to authorities investigating reports of abuse and that two assistant district attorneys and a veteran social worker were among those who coached congregants and their children on what to say to investigators. After the AP report, the prosecutors, including one who is a son-in-law of a church founder, left their jobs, and the social worker resigned.

The sect was founded in 1979 by Jane Whaley, a former math teacher, and her husband, Sam, a former used car salesman. Under Jane Whaley's leadership, Word of Faith Fellowship grew from a handful of followers to a 750-member congregation in North Carolina, and another nearly 2,000 members in churches in Brazil and Ghana. It also has affiliations in other countries.

Mohr reported from Jackson, Mississippi.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:45 pm 
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Indonesian province sets up task force targeting gays
24 May 2017

BANDUNG, Indonesia (AP) -- Indonesian police in West Java have set up a task force to investigate activities by gays in the country's most populous province.

Police chief Anton Charliyan said Wednesday the taskforce includes police, army and provincial officials. He said it will monitor and search for locations used for parties by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. He said it is aimed at preventing activities in the province such as an alleged gay sex party that was raided in the capital, Jakarta.

Police in Jakarta detained 141 men in the raid Sunday on a gay gym and sauna which they said was the venue of a sex party promoted as "The Wild One." On Tuesday, two men were publicly caned 83 times each in Aceh province for consensual gay sex.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:48 pm 
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2 men in Indonesia caned dozens of times for gay sex
By HERI JUANDA
23 May 2017

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) -- Two men in Indonesia's Aceh province were publicly caned dozens of times Tuesday for consensual gay sex, a punishment that intensifies an anti-gay backlash in the world's most populous Muslim country and which rights advocates denounced as "medieval torture."

More than a thousand people packed the courtyard of a mosque to witness the caning, which was the first time that Aceh, the only province in Indonesia to practice Shariah law, has caned people for homosexuality. The crowd shouted insults and cheered as the men, aged 20 and 23, were whipped across the back and winced with pain. Many in the crush of spectators filmed the caning with cellphones as a team of five robed and hooded enforcers took turns inflicting the punishment, relieving one another after every 20 strokes for one of the men and 40 for the other.

Sarojini Mutia Irfan, a female university student who witnessed the caning, said it was a necessary deterrent. "What they have done is like a virus that can harm people's morale," she said. "This kind of public punishment is an attempt to stop the spread of the virus to other communities in Aceh."

The couple were arrested in March after neighborhood vigilantes in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, suspected them of being gay and broke into their rented room to catch them having sex. A Shariah court last week sentenced each man to 85 strokes, but they were caned 83 times after a remission for time spent in prison. Four heterosexual couples also were caned Tuesday, receiving a far lesser number of strokes for affection outside marriage.

Banda Aceh resident Ibrahim Muhayat said far more people attended the publicly meted-out punishment than usual because like him, many wanted to witness Indonesia's first-ever caning of gay men. The Islamic Defenders Front, a hard-line group known for acts of vigilante violence throughout Indonesia, erected a banner at the mosque that declared the group was ready to defend Shariah law whatever the cost.

With the exception of Aceh, homosexuality is not illegal in Indonesia, but the country's low-profile LGBT community has been under siege in the past year. Prejudice has been fanned by stridently anti-gay comments from politicians and Islamic hard-liners, and a case before the country's top court is seeking to criminalize gay sex and sex outside marriage. On Monday, 141 men were detained in a police raid on a gay sauna in Jakarta, the capital.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the caning was torture under international law and had called on Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to intervene. The maximum possible sentence was 100 strokes of the cane and prosecutors had asked for 80. "The court's less-than-maximum sentence of 85 lashes is no act of compassion. It does not change the reality that flogging is a grotesque display of medieval torture," said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

Caning is also a punishment in Aceh for gambling, drinking alcohol, women who wear tight clothes and men who skip Friday prayers. More than 300 people were caned for such offenses in 2016. Indonesia's reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam has been battered in the past year due to attacks on religious minorities, a surge in persecution of gays and a polarizing election campaign for governor of Jakarta that highlighted the growing strength of hard-line Islamic groups. Earlier this month, the outgoing Jakarta governor, a minority Christian, was sentenced to two years in prison for campaign comments deemed as blaspheming the Quran.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:59 am 
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Policeman who proposed at London Pride was flooded with abuse
By Jen Mills
2 July 2017

A policeman who proposed at London Pride faced so much hatred afterwards that it was enough to ‘wish he had never done it’.

Phil Adlem was on an ’emotional high’ after he got engaged to his ‘wonderful fiance’, buoyed up by cheering crowds and messages of support last year.

Although he hadn’t expected his proposal to be seen thousands of times, it was, helped by a positive tweet from the Met Police LGBT network and a video shared on national news.

But the moment quickly became tainted when Phil realised that among the positivity, he was also getting a barrage of abuse saying things like ‘Both should be hanged till death’.

In an opinion piece for the Guardian this week, Phil said he was pleased at first when he read comments from the British public.

‘My smile did not last long as I continued reading. “Both should be hanged till death”, “Absolutely disgusting” and “Don’t blame Isis if they strike them!”,’ he said.

‘There were countless more, some with threats. A further hostile reaction at work from one of my colleagues and another from an old college friend was enough for me to wish I had never done it.’

One year on from his proposal, Phil said he wanted to talk about the backlash he faced to counter the idea that Pride was ‘no longer needed’.

He said it wasn’t his first experience of homophobia, having been severely beaten on his 18th birthday.

It all served to show him how LGBT people are still vulnerable to discrimination and abuse, although he said he did feel ‘lucky’ to live in a country where he can join the police force as an openly gay man when in many countries he wouldn’t be able to.

But he urged people not to take acceptance for granted or to be complacent about Pride, which he called ‘an invaluable source of positivity and strength for anyone who has experienced abuse or bullying.’

http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/02/policeman ... e-6750113/

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 4:38 am 
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Russian TV channel offers to buy one-way plane tickets for gay people
By Ashitha Nagesh
2 July 2017

A homophobic TV channel in Russia is offering to buy one-way plane tickets for gay people who say they want to emigrate.

In a video posted on social media this week, the religious channel Tsargrad TV asked gay people to compete for the plane ticket abroad. The channel regularly uses homophobic slurs and other offensive terms when talking about LGBT people.

‘Just recently California – the most liberal state in the USA, by the way – proposed to facilitating the granting of green cards to Russian perverts,’ TV host Andrei Afanasyev said. ‘The staff of Tsargrad TV support this initiative. Moreover, we are ready to pay for a one-way ticket to anyone who plans to emigrate in complete earnest, and can provide a medical certificate proving that they are sodomites or have other forms of perversion. We really want you to move there, where you can openly submit to your sins.’

Afanasyev then insisted that he wasn’t trolling viewers, and that it just ‘wants to do good’.

A few people have already expressed their interest in the offer. ‘It looks like my winning ticket to get out of this frigging country,’ one person said. ‘What should I submit?’ Many, many others called the channel’s staff ‘savages’ and pledged to block it from social media.

But a Russian sexologist, speaking to lifestyle website Afisha Daily, did point out that people wouldn’t be able to get a ‘medical certificate’ as proof because being gay isn’t a disease.

Tsargrad is a niche Christian Orthodox channel, but it boasts around a quarter of the Russian population as its audience.

Source: Metro UK

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:22 pm 
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Gender diversity art show closed over protests in Brazil
11 September 2017

SAO PAULO (AP) -- An art exhibition on gender diversity has been cancelled in Brazil in response to social media protests.

Conservative groups have campaigned against the show and the bank sponsoring it, accusing them of promoting blasphemy, pedophilia and bestiality. Among the criticized artworks are a box of Roman Catholic sacramental wafers labeled with the words for sexual parts and a painting of two children suggesting one is a transvestite and the other is gay.

Banco Santander said in a statement Sunday that it was closing the Queermuseu, or "queer museum," exhibit in the southern city of Porto Alegre. Supporters of the show say the cancellation goes against freedom of expression and are calling for a counter-protest Tuesday. The exhibition opened Aug. 15 and was to run until Oct. 8.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 7:39 pm 
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Police in Zanzibar arrest at least 20 for 'homosexuality'
16 September 2017

Nairobi (AFP) - Twenty people have been arrested on Tanzania's semi-autonomous archipelago Zanzibar for alleged homosexuality, a police official said Saturday, in the latest crackdown on the country's gay community.

"They are implicated in homosexuality. We arrested them and are busy interrogating them. The police cannot turn a blind eye to this practice," said regional police commander Hassan Ali Nasri on state television. He said the 12 women and eight men were arrested in a hotel where they were undergoing training from an NGO that works on HIV/Aids education programmes.

In February, Tanzania announced it was stopping many privately run health centres from providing Aids-related services, which Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said promoted homosexuality.

Gay male sex is punishable by anything from 30 years to life imprisonment under Tanzanian law, but there is no such ban on lesbian relations. However, politicians had largely ignored the gay community - which was not subject to levels of discrimination seen in other countries such as neighbouring Uganda - until a recent spike in anti-gay rhetoric by the government.

On Friday, deputy health minister Hamisi Kingwangalla vowed in front of parliament to "fight with all our strength against groups supporting homosexuality in our country". The government has in past month vowed to deport foreigners who "campaign for homosexuality". Dozens of men suspected of being gay have been detained and taken to hospital for anal exams to confirm their homosexuality.

In July last year the government banned the import and sales of sexual lubricants, which Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said encouraged homosexuality which led to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Homosexuality is illegal in 38 of 54 countries in Africa, and is punishable by death in Mauritania, Sudan and Somalia, according to Amnesty International. Uganda in 2014 tried to impose the death penalty on those found guilty of being homosexual, however the controversial law was later repealed.

Source: AFP

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Egypt "hunting down" gays, conducting forced anal exams - Amnesty
30 September 2017

CAIRO (Reuters) - Six Egyptian men arrested for “promoting sexual deviancy” and “debauchery” on social media will be subjected to anal examinations ahead of their Oct. 1 trial, Amnesty International said on Saturday.

Their arrest is part of a wider crackdown against homosexuality that started last week when a group of people were seen raising a rainbow flag at a concert, a rare public show of support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in the conservative Muslim country.

At least 11 people have since been arrested, Amnesty said, and one man has been sentenced to six years in jail after local media launched a highly critical campaign against those who raised the rainbow flag at a Mashrou’ Leila concert, a popular Lebanese alternative rock band whose lead singer is openly gay.

Amnesty said the Forensic Medical Authority was due to subject the six men to anal examinations to determine whether they have had homosexual sex. Judicial sources said any defendant accused of “debauchery” or “sexual deviancy”, a euphemism for homosexuality in Egypt, is subjected to a medical examination based on an order from the Public Prosecutor. “Allegations of torturing or insulting those medically examined are lies not worth responding to. The examinations are carried out by a forensic doctor who swore to respect his profession and its ethics,” one judicial source said.

Amnesty said such examinations violate the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment under international law. “The fact that Egypt’s Public Prosecutor is prioritizing hunting down people based on their perceived sexual orientation is utterly deplorable. These men should be released immediately and unconditionally – not put on trial,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International. “Forced anal examinations are abhorrent and amount to torture. The Egyptian authorities have an appalling track record of using invasive physical tests which amount to torture against detainees in their custody. All plans to carry out such tests on these men must be stopped immediately.”

Egypt’s Muslim religious establishment is voicing its support for the government’s moves against homosexuals. “Al Azhar will stand against calls for sexual perversion the same way it has stood against extremist groups,” a preacher at the 1,000-year-old seat of Sunni Muslim learning said in his Friday prayers sermon.

Although homosexuality is not specifically outlawed in Egypt, it is a conservative society and discrimination is rife. Gay men are frequently arrested and typically charged with debauchery, immorality or blasphemy. The largest crackdown on homosexuals took place in 2001, when police raided a floating disco called the Queen Boat. Fifty-two men were tried in the case.

Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Additional reporting by Haitham Ahmed; Editing by Stephen Powell
Source: Reuters

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Egypt arrests 7 for raising rainbow flag at indie rock gig
By Brian Rohan
26 September 2017

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities have arrested seven people they accuse of being gay and promoting homosexuality for allegedly raising the rainbow flag of the LGBT movement at a concert last week, even though there is no law banning the practices.

The flag was a rare sign of support for highly marginalized homosexuals in conservative Egypt. It took place at a Cairo performance on Friday by popular Lebanese indie rock band Mashrou' Leila, a jazzy, electro-Arabesque group whose lead singer is openly gay.

The seven were arrested on Monday and charged with "inciting immorality," security officials said, adding that the Supreme State Security Prosecution acted after authorities discovered the seven had "raised the flag of homosexuals." The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.

Homosexuality is highly taboo in Egypt among both majority Muslims and the Christian minority, but it is not explicitly prohibited by law. In practice, however, the state regularly seeks to prosecute individuals under alternative charges, including "immorality" and "debauchery," which are normally reserved for prostitution. Prosecutors also sometimes charge gay people with "blasphemy," which is also considered a crime in a country with severe limits on free speech.

Shortly after the concert, images and videos of the flag-raising went viral, with some praising the move but others posting virulent attacks on social media. An exasperated host on one television channel urged Reza Ragab, the deputy head of the official musicians union, to explain how such a thing could have happened "on Egyptian soil." "We are against gay art," Ragab said in a phone interview on AlAssema TV. "It is depraved art." He said the band had all the necessary permits, including approval by the ubiquitous state security services, but added that the union would ban the group from further performances.

Mashrou' Leila has played in Egypt before, although the group was twice banned from performing in Jordan over allegations its musicians violate the kingdom's traditions and commit blasphemy. It is one of the Arab world's few rock acts to gain significant resonance in the West, playing its Arabic-language fusion to a growing number of fans in Europe and the United States.

The band on its Facebook page called the Cairo show, held in a mall in an upscale suburb, one of the best they had ever played, and that it had been an "honor to play to such a wonderful crowd." The feed became a culture war battle zone in subsequent posts, however, with some users hurling insults while others defended the group.

Egypt regularly arrests gay men, with large police raids on parties or other locations such as bath houses occasionally creating media sensations. The most famous raid was in 2001, when 52 men were arrested at a dance party on a floating nightclub moored on the Nile called the Queen Boat. The men were put on trial in a highly publicized proceeding during which they were mocked in the media, which published photos of them as well as names and addresses. Almost half were sentenced to prison after a trial that was widely criticized by human rights groups and Western governments.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:55 pm 
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Gay Russian speaks out on police torture in Chechnya
by Olga ROTENBERG
16 October 2017

MOSCOW (AFP) - A gay man living in Chechnya on Monday went public to describe his detention and torture by police during a crackdown on homosexuals in the region ruled by strongman Ramzan Kadryov.

Maxim Lapunov, who gave a press conference in Moscow, is the first victim to come forward since reports emerged in March of gay men being imprisoned and beaten in the mainly Muslim region where homosexuality is taboo. The reports prompted international condemnation and German Chancellor Angela Merkel publicly urged President Vladimir Putin in May to investigate.

Lapunov, a 30-year-old ethnic Russian who lived in Chechnya for two years, said he was detained on the street in the main city of Grozny by men in plain clothes and taken to a police station. There he was imprisoned in a cellar for 12 days and beaten by police who threatened to kill him for being gay, he claimed. "The main accusation against me was that I'm gay," he said. The police "would shout that I'm gay, that people like me should be killed."

Lapunov described being thrown into a cell drenched in blood. "The cell was around two by two metres and about a quarter of the floor was just covered in blood -- it was quite fresh blood," he said. He believed he would be killed. "Based on their words and their actions, I thought that after a certain time they would kill me in any case."

Hours after his detention, police began beating him. "They started beating me with sticks. I don't know how long it took but a very long time," he said. "They hit me on the calves, they put my face to a wall and beat me on the legs, thighs, buttocks and back, until I started to fall."

Lapunov gave a news conference at Novaya Gazeta, an opposition newspaper which first reported that Chechen authorities were imprisoning and torturing gay men. "The only thing that I would like now is justice," said Lapunov. He first came forward in August with the help of the Committee against Torture, a rights group. His testimony came after Russian authorities initially dismissed the reports, arguing there was no factual basis.

Russian rights ombudswoman Tatiana Moskalkova acknowledged on Friday that she had received a statement from Lapunov. "I handed his statement to investigative bodies and they are working on it," she said, RIA Novosti state news agency reported. Lapunov said he was detained from March 16 to 28, before being released on condition that he signed forms, put his fingerprints on a gun and made a video admitting to being gay, he said.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:44 pm 
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Europe watchdog questions Azerbaijan over fears of LGBT crackdown
16 October 2017

BAKU (AFP) - A European rights watchdog on Monday expressed concern over a wave of arrests in Azerbaijan last month of people who made "offers of sexual services" that human rights groups say targets the Muslim country's gay community.

In a letter to Interior Minister Ramil Usubov, the Council of Europe rights commissioner spoke of alleged "discrimination" against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Earlier this month, the interior ministry and prosecutor general announced that at least 83 people were arrested in raids from September 15 to 30, after they made "offers of sexual services to locals and tourists".

Nils Muiznieks wrote in the letter: "According to information at my disposal, the lawyers acting on behalf of the detainees have maintained that only a small number of those arrested were involved in sex work." "Arrests based wholly or in part on sexual orientation or gender identity constitute discrimination".

Amnesty International had criticised the arrests, saying: "Clearly, LGBT community representatives were exclusively targeted in this raid and this was a blatant intimidation attempt by the authorities".

Usubov had denied targeting LGBT people then, and on Monday, he issued another denial in his reply to the Council of Europe. "We received numerous complaints ... about a gross number of administrative violations of public order and persons involved in idleness, minor thefts or begging, as well as complaints about offering sexual services for money to locals and foreign tourists by sexual minority representatives," Usubov said. "The only purpose of detention ... was to detect and prevent any facts which cause discontent of population as well as to protect public health".

Of the 83 people arrested, 56 were placed in administrative detention for 5 to 30 days, and 18 received fines, Usubov said. He also addressed reports of discrimination, saying that LGBT people have sought "to insulate themselves from liability for any wrongful acts committed in our country by bringing to the forefront their sexual orientation".

Muiznieks also asked authorities to shed light on reports that detainees were subjected to medical tests to ascertain whether they had any sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. "While protecting public health is a legitimate aim, it cannot be pursued through forcibly checking the health status of persons after arresting and detaining them," he said.

Oil-rich Azerbaijan has repeatedly been accused by rights groups of increasingly repressive policies under President Ilham Aliyev's authoritarian regime.

Source: AFP

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:48 pm 
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Tajikistan announces official register of gay citizens
17 October 2017

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan (AFP) - Authoritarian Tajikistan announced Tuesday it had drawn up a register of 367 allegedly gay citizens, suggesting they would be required to undergo testing to avoid "the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases."

Details of the move was unveiled in Zakonnost, a newspaper published by Tajikistan's state prosecutor which said the official list of "gay and lesbian" citizens was compiled following research into the LGBT community. Rights activists in this Central Asian nation have in the past raised fears over discrimination faced by LGBT individuals in this conservative country that is mainly Muslim but has secular authorities.

The paper said that working groups set up last year had identified 319 gay men and 48 lesbians but no transsexuals in this former Soviet republic of 8.5 million. It said the list was drawn up following two state "operations" last year entitled "Morality" and "Purge", without giving further details.

Zakonnost did not specify what kind of checks would be involved, but said the people had been "put on a register due to their vulnerability in society and for their safety and to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases." Speaking on condition of anonymity, a police source told AFP that "strict medical records" were needed for members of the gay community because "such people have a high risk of contracting sexually-transmitted infections through infectious diseases."

Unlike in neighbouring Uzbekistan, where "sodomy" is illegal, homosexuality is not banned in Tajikistan although it is frowned upon in this conservative society. In 2014, Tajikistan's most senior Muslim cleric blasted homosexual relationships as "calamitous" during a sermon in the main mosque in the capital, Dushanbe.

There are growing concerns over the safety of LGBT communities across Muslim-majority regions of the former Soviet Union. In March, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta said authorities in the Russian region of Chechnya were imprisoning and torturing gay men. One Chechen resident publicly testified in Moscow this week about being detained and tortured because he is gay. And last month, Amnesty International raised alarm over the apparent detentions of LGBT individuals in the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan.

Source: AFP

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